Cannabis Concentrates: What Are They & The Different Types?

Picture a cup of drip coffee, versus a shot of espresso. That’s basically what we’re getting at when comparing traditional marijuana flower to cannabis concentrates. These innovative cannabis products come in a variety of textures and can be consumed using several different methods, bringing lots of unique benefits to the table.

Highly Potent Products

As the name suggests, concentrates are highly concentrated forms of cannabinoids, with potencies reaching as high as 95% THC. Cannabinoids and terpenes make up the effects, smell, and flavors of the plant and are found in the trichomes or the small white frosty crystals found on the surface of the leaves and buds. So a cannabis concentrate is a condensed treasure trove of these sticky trichomes. 

The effects of concentrates are felt almost immediately after inhalation. Due to the high potency of cannabis concentrate products, it is highly recommended consumers start with a low dose and take it slow. Some consumption methods include sprinkling kief on top of the flower in your bowl or adding a little wax around a joint. Or for a more fast-acting method, you could vaporize the concentrate using a dab rig, vaporizer, or terp pen.

A Cleaner Smoking Experience

Many concentrates are produced by extracting cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis flower in a process that typically uses a solvent, like carbon dioxide (CO2) or butane. During this extraction process, plant material is removed, and the THC and CBD compounds are isolated. Since smoking plant material is not ideal for our lungs, this provides us with a much cleaner smoking experience. On the other hand, some marijuana concentrates can contain residual solvents—so make sure the products you purchase are tested like LivWell’s. Some concentrates do not use solvents, but instead use pressure, heat, or other methods to remove the trichomes.

Types of Cannabis ConcentratesDisplay of cannabis concentrates shatter, crumble, budder, wax

Because “concentrate” has become the broad term for a variety of extracts, things can get confusing. Let’s lay it all out.

Wax, crumble, shatter, sugar, and oil typically refer to a concentrate’s texture. These textures are usually chosen based on individual preferences and methods of use. 

  • Wax concentrates resemble the texture of candle wax. It’s often separated into other names, like sugar, budder, or crumble, depending on the consistency.
  • Shatter is a solid material resembling a thin, honey-colored shard of glass. When touched, shatter easily breaks into pieces, hence the name.
  • Distillates are a refined version of cannabis extract. These have a much more liquid-like consistency compared to wax or shatter, and are most often used in vaporizer (vape) pens.
  • Live Resin resembles the texture of wax or shatter. It’s a special type of concentrate created by freezing just-harvested cannabis before starting the extraction process, allowing the cannabis plant to retain far more terpenes. With more terpenes present, not only is the flavor and aroma profile significantly greater, but users also achieve a fuller psychoactive experience as terpenes interact with cannabinoids like THC and CBD in the body.
  • Rosin is a solventless concentrate and is created using high heat and pressure to squeeze out resin from marijuana flower, hash, or kief and in the process transformed into sappy hash oil that you can dab.
  • Kief is concentrated resin or trichomes from cannabis flower that is sifted through a mesh screen or sieve. Many grinders come with a kief catcher so you can scrap it and sprinkle it on bowls, joints, or blunts.